MILWAUKEE -- The suitcase he lugged to Miller Park on Tuesday represented another sign of progress for rehabbing Brewers first baseman Corey Hart. Hart was to travel with the team for a five-game road trip as he continues moving toward a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
The free-agent-to-be, who belted 30 home runs last season, has yet to play in 2013 after having right knee surgery in late January. This will be his first time traveling with the team.
"I'm pretty close; I just couldn't give you a day," Hart said. "Every day, [medical staffers] are closer to setting a day. I think they're waiting for the running stuff to get better."
For the past week or so, Hart has been a full participant in batting practice, and he has been taking ground balls at first base. But he remains limited while running, especially in the side-to-side agility drills he did Tuesday.
The knee feels good, Hart said. But his muscle memory is lagging behind.
"When I started on the field five days ago, it was terrible," Hart said. "Today was better than yesterday. Every day is progress."
Hart is eligible for reinstatement from the 60-day disabled list beginning Thursday, a target he will certainly miss.
Roenicke sticking with starters for road trip
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers have considered a myriad of fixes for poor starting pitching, including promoting a player all the way from Double-A, but will remain with the current group for at least one more turn through the rotation.
Marco Estrada will start the opener of a five-game road trip Wednesday at Minnesota, followed by Kyle Lohse's return to the rotation Thursday after missing one start with right elbow discomfort. Yovani Gallardo and Wily Peralta, who in particular have struggled so far, will then pitch in the subsequent three-game series at Philadelphia. Gallardo will start the opening game, and Peralta will take the hill Saturday or Sunday, depending on where the Brewers slot the current No. 5 starter, Mike Fiers.
Peralta's hold on his spot in the rotation was questioned after he needed 108 pitches for five innings in a loss to the Twins on Monday that actually lowered his ERA to 6.35.
Together, Brewers starters owned a 5.29 ERA entering Tuesday, worst in the National League.
"You don't usually see this; usually somebody will go out there like Marco did the other day and throw up some zeros," manager Ron Roenicke said of Estrada's seven-inning outing against the Pirates. "With our pitching staff, I expect that to happen. I don't know why it hasn't."
Because Triple-A Nashville's starting pitchers are also struggling, the Brewers have looked as far as Double-A Huntsville, where Jimmy Nelson, No. 8 on MLB.com's list of Milwaukee's top 20 prospects, and Ariel Pena, No. 17 on that list, have pitched well. Nelson is 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 65 strikeouts versus 12 walks after a no-decision Tuesday in Jackson, Miss.
Without mentioning any names, Roenicke said he would not be opposed to a player skipping Triple-A if necessary.
"We got [shortstop Jean Segura] out of Double-A last year, and I don't mind," Roenicke said. "We brought [Tyler] Thornburg last year from Double-A. We don't mind doing that. It depends on who's pitching the best and where we see them in their development, and whether it could affect them in a negative way if things didn't go well here. Every individual is a little different."
Badenhop just misses tossing scoreless May
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever Burke Badenhop came within four days of quietly pitching a shutout in the month of May.
The "quiet" part was by design. The first of general manager Doug Melvin's offseason bullpen additions, Badenhop was loathe to talk about his streak of 12 appearances without an earned run in May. But after allowing a home run to Minnesota's Joe Mauer in the seventh inning Monday that bounced off the top of the left-field wall, Badenhop was finally willing to talk.
"For me, it's focus," Badenhop said. "Mentally, having it there and being locked in and ready to pitch regardless of the scenario. If it weren't for one pitch yesterday, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
That one pitch was supposed to be a backdoor slider that clipped the outer part of home plate against the left-handed-hitting Mauer. But Badenhop said he "yanked" the pitch across the plate and left it over the middle.
"It kind of stinks," Badenhop said. "I don't think I've ever had [a scoreless streak] even remotely that long. It would have been nice to finish May up."
He had a ways to go to make Brewers history. The record for consecutive scoreless appearances by a Milwaukee reliever in a single season is 25, set by left-hander Brian Shouse from June 6 to Aug. 5, 2006. For a right-hander, the record holder is former closer Doug Jones, who worked 23 consecutive scoreless appearances from Aug. 11 to Sept. 26, 1997, the year he set a then-club record with 37 saves.
• Left-hander Chris Narveson has his own travel itinerary when the rest of the team leaves Tuesday night for Minneapolis. He will make his first rehabilitation start Thursday for Triple-A Nashville as he works back from a sprained left middle finger.
Very tentatively, Narveson is scheduled for four Minor League starts before the Brewers consider inserting him into the big league rotation. That would put him at the 75-80-pitch mark.